United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
DANNY M. OWENS PLAINTIFF
VICTOR P. MASON, ET AL. DEFENDANTS
P. JORDAN, III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
civil-rights action is before the Court on multiple motions:
Plaintiff's motions [3, 5] for “Temporary
Injunction, ” Defendants' motion for judgment on
the pleadings , and Plaintiff's motions [17, 21] to
amend the complaint. The Court finds that Defendants'
motions should be granted and Plaintiff's motions should
Facts and Procedural History
suit relates to the seizure of real property in satisfaction
of a default judgment entered by the County Court of Hinds
County, Mississippi. Defs.' Ex. A [14-1] (Complaint in
Harris v. Owens d/b/a Black Diamonds Nightclub,
Cause. No. 14-3969). In January 2016, Marteze Harris obtained
a default judgment against Daniel Owens d/b/a Black Diamonds
Nightclub (“the judgment debtor”) for failure to
participate in and/or respond to discovery requests.
Defs.' Ex. B [14-2] (Order); Defs.' Ex. C [14-3] at
14 (Judgment). Harris's counsel, Defendant Ben Wilson,
represented that the judgment debtor owned real property in
Hinds County-the Black Diamonds Nightclub-which could satisfy
the judgment. The Hinds County Circuit Clerk issued a Writ of
Execution, signed by Defendant Deputy Clerk Karla Bailey, and
the Hinds County Sheriff's Department seized the
property. Defs.' Ex. C [14-3] at 15 (Writ of Execution).
23, 2017, Plaintiff Danny M. Owens filed a Complaint for
Emergency Relief in County Court, seeking to block the
eviction. Owens claimed that he-not his son the judgment
debtor-owned the real property. Defs.' Ex. C [14-3] at 2
(Complaint in Owens v. Harris, Cause No. 17-01909).
After holding a hearing, County Court Judge Staci O'Neal
denied the Complaint, finding Danny M. Owens “owned the
property and participated in the management of the
business which took place on the real property at
issue.” Defs.' Ex. D [14-4] (Order (emphasis
Danny M. Owens is now suing Hinds County Sheriff Victor P.
Mason, Bailey, and Wilson in this Court, alleging that they
violated his right to due process by issuing and executing
the writ. Compl.  at 1 (invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983).
Owens maintains that he alone owns the subject property, not
the judgment debtor. Mason and Bailey (the “Moving
Defendants”) seek dismissal. It does not appear that
Wilson has been served.
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c) is “subject to the same standards
as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Doe v.
MySpace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008). In
considering a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the “court
accepts ‘all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'”
Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid
Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004) (quoting
Jones v. Greninger, 188 F.3d 322, 324 (5th Cir.
1999) (per curiam)). But “the tenet that a court must
accept as true all of the allegations contained in a
complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). To overcome a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must
plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level, on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555
(citations and footnote omitted).
Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings 
Defendants Mason and Bailey assert that (1) Owens's suit
is subject to res judicata; (2) his § 1983
individual-capacity claims are barred by absolute immunity;
and (3) his § 1983 official-capacity claims fail for
lack of a county policy that was the moving force behind the
alleged constitutional violation. Though the res judicata
argument is likely dispositive, the Court will address all
say this lawsuit is barred by the doctrine of res judicata
because Owens unsuccessfully contested the seizure in state
court. Res judicata “bars the litigation of claims that
either have been litigated or should have been raised in an
earlier suit.” Test Masters Educ. Servs., Inc. v.
Singh, 428 F.3d 559, 571 (5th Cir. 2005). “The
test for res judicata has four elements: (1) the parties are
identical or in privity; (2) the judgment in the prior action
was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) the
prior action was concluded by a final judgment on the merits;
and (4) the same claim or cause of action was involved in
both actions.” Id. All factors are met here.
the parties are identical or in privity. In the County Court
Complaint for Emergency Relief, Owens named Mason as a
Defendant, challenging his execution of the writ in his
capacity as Sheriff of Hinds County. State-Court Compl.
[14-3] at 1-2. Here, Owens again names Mason in his official
capacity as sheriff and adds Bailey in her official capacity
as Deputy Clerk. Compl.  ¶ 22. “A non-party
defendant can assert res judicata so long as it is in privity
with the named defendants.” Roa v. City of
Denison, No. 4:16-CV-00115-ALM-CAN, 2017 WL 9287012, at
*11 (E.D. Tex. Aug. 29, 2017) (citing Gulf Island-IV,
Inc. v. Blue Streak-Gulf IS OPS, 24 F.3d 743, 746 (5th
Cir. 1994) (rejecting argument that res judicata applies only
to party against whom plea is asserted)). Mason and Bailey
are in privity because both are affiliated with Hinds County.
Johnson v. Hays Cty., No. A-14-CA-834 LY, 2014 WL
5524144, at *4 (W.D. Tex. Oct. 31, 2014) (“Defendants
who are members of the same government agency are generally
treated as being in privity for purposes of being able to
assert a res judicata defense.”) (citing Boone v.
Kurtz, 617 F.2d 435, 436 (5th Cir. 1980) (finding res
judicata barred second suit adding IRS commissioner where
first suit named only IRS agents); Benbow v. Wall,
No. 13-757 S., 2014 WL 652354 at *6 (D.R.I. Feb. 19, 2014)
(dismissing prisoner's second suit based on res judicata
despite addition of new defendant who was employed by same
agency as original defendants)); see also Sunshine
Anthracite Coal Co. v. Adkins, 310 U.S. 381, 402-03
(1940) (“There is privity between officers of the same
government so that a judgment in a suit between a party and a
representative of the United States is res judicata in
relitigation of the same issue between that party and another
officer of the government.”).
it is undisputed that the County Court of Hinds County is a
court of competent jurisdiction. State-Court Compl. [14-3]
¶ 4 (acknowledging court's jurisdiction). Third, the
first suit was concluded by a final judgment on the merits.
Judge O'Neal denied Owens's Complaint for Emergency
Relief because he owned the parcel subject to the writ and
participated in the management of the nightclub. Defs.'
Ex. D [14-4] (Order). This finding concluded the action.
the same claim or cause of action was involved in both
lawsuits. Here, Owens says he, not the judgment debtor, is
the owner of the seized property. Compl.  at 3-4. In